Rural System's

The Tours Group

The Tours Group is proposed as an economic enterprise that can be sustained. The action is gentle on the land, educational, and meets the real needs of a population that is becoming more urban. The enterprise works to arrange high quality, well-catered and well-outfitted tours of the county, region, and especially lands under Rural System management. They attempt to educate visitors about local environmental issues and resource management. Tours include those with names such as:

Note from Dean Jonhson (Virginia Tech) suggesting an opportunity for nature tourism:

In October, 2002, I visited the Cornell Biodiversity Lab in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. The trip was hosted by Dr. Dean Sutphin, the incoming Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. In his current position as Associate Dean at Cornell, Dr. Sutphin helped to establish the Biodiversity Lab. Now that he is comining to Virginia Tech, Dr. Sutphin has arranged for us to participate in using this facility.

Oppportunities exist for undergraduate study abroad programs, research, outreach, tours, etc. The Biodiversity Lab is located on the east coast of the Dominican Republic, about 3 hours drive from Santo Domingo. Only a couple of years old, the Center houses administrative offices, research labs, classrooms, dormitory for students and faculty, and cafeteria services. An ecological reserve, gardens and nursery, and cultural center are nearby. The Center is owned and operated by the Punta Cana Ecological Foundation.

Jim Johnson, Associate Dean, Outreach

Bus tours are the main activity, emphasizing comfort, small group management, and minimum requirements for parking spaces and auto impacts of various sorts. Open-air vehicle tours are also used, especially on night trips. Regional tours are arranged for travelers going to and from the area, meeting staff at several national or state parks and forests on their way to and from the area. International tours are arranged for bird watching, seeing the deer and owls of the world, and developing wildlife-related trips with our contacts in Senegal, China, Nigeria, India, Belize, and the Dominican Republic. The tours provide employment opportunities, research and education opportunities, enhance the quality of life, and allow a rural contribution to the overall region, and other land holdings. Emphasis in the tours is definitely on nature and that can be defined broadly, but it is expected that the relations of nature to local and national history, to local historic sites, and to the effects of changing land use, and to diversification will be part of many tours.

The intent of this description is to suggest staff efforts and provide insights for planners and investors in The Tours Group. The Tours Group will succeed best when created within the context of Nature Folks, Avi, The Deer Group, The Fishery, Prospectors, Stoneworms and other enterprises such as the Wildland Knowledge Base.

The Interest and Potentials

Tourism in Virginia is estimated to have a $15.2 billion economic effect (2003). It increased 5.2% from 2002 to 2003. It is now about 5.1% of the gross state product. It is said to be about 7.9% of total employment involving over a quarter million jobs. In 2003 in Virginia tourism is said to have generated !0.6 billion in labor income.

Over 40% of the U.S. population now participate in some form of nature tourism. It is the fastest growing component of the travel industry. Variously termed ecotourism and back-to-nature trips, but also sight-seeing, dispersed outdoor recreation, and even "visits," The Tours Group is a major participant in ranging, the collective term for the above set of words and phrases. The enterprise provides a variety of tours managed as a whole system with a constant theme and clear objectives, central administration, planning, and cost effectiveness. The Monterey Bay Bird Festival is an example of a nature-related activity and tour destination. Nature tourism is not yet (2004) featured by the Virginia Tourism Corporation. West Virginia and North Carolina have extensive tourism sites.

Objectives

The objectives of The Tours Group (the weights or relative importance of these needs to be be discussed) are:

1. To make a profit for employees and investors.
2. To teach people about nature (where "teach" implies "make a significant change in their behavior or feeling of pleasure or reduced dissonance")
3. To stabilize the presence or dynamic of natural phenomena.
4. To acquaint more people with the special natural areas and processes of the region.
5. To expedite meaningful, safe, national and international nature and wildland tours.
6. To help stabilize employment of people with knowledge about nature and the rural environment.
7. To stabilize a diverse research program on nature and improving the rural environment.
8. To acquaint urban people with the realities of natural processes in the forests, fields, waters, and wetlands that support them.
9. To stabilize sales and services for people on tours, sales that also benefit the local economy.

Tours and programs produced by the Tours Group of Rural System will have special characteristics:

1. They start at the end. A tour participant is a potential long-term member of a "club" of people who have gone on tours. Rural System is interested in the person leaving the tour bus.
2. Tourists are educated before starting and during the tour. The emphasis - "the responsible tourist."
3. Areas are protected.
4. Collection is discouraged.
5. Photography is taught and encouraged.
6. Personal time is encouraged and provisions made for it on tours.
7. The welfare of local people is enhanced, at least protected.
8. Historical and cultural activities can usually be related. Special events may be interspersed with "nature" events.
9. While local activity may be disrupted, the benefits, by design, will outweigh the costs related to disruptions.
10. General support and encouragement of museum work is provided.

Expenditures and net economic impact of tourism in select Pennsylvania locations (Haney and Schaat 1995) has been in the net range per person per day of $15-25. Nature tourism has not been developed as an economic resource system. The ideas have been limited; the scale of operation has been small; providing diverse offerings has not accommodated the effects of season. Rural System itself has available a vast professional resource. There are unlimited land resources as well in the surrounding areas.

A Tours strategy includes direct work with cultural events, motels, busses, restaurants, bed and breakfast, boating, service stations, local stores and markets, art galleries, handicraft groups, and artists. The boost proposed from the creation of the enterprise is to the overall economy. (At Cape May, NJ, visitors observing migrating birds spend over $10 million in the community.) Meetings and suggestions for local participants for cooperating with Tours will be provided.

The general concepts that The Tours Group encourages are (in unison with ASTA):

1. Respecting the frailty of Earth.
2. Leaving only footprints (taking away only memories and photos)
3. Educating before,while on tours, and afterwards.
4. Respecting privacy and dignity of people in areas visited.
5. Refraining from buying objects related to endangered plants, animals, or communities.
6. Refraining from disturbing animals, or communities.
7. Creating support for research, studies, and expeditions.
8. Using appropriate transportation (low impact, low energy).
9. Patronizing nature-sensitive hotels, resorts, transportation, etc. (re-cycle; noise; energy, etc. and with staff dedicated to improved resource management.)

The potentials (not intended to be site specific) and suggestions of the types of tours:

  1. Hawk watching
  2. Spring flower tours (medicinal plants, poisonous plants, etc.)
  3. Fishing contests
  4. Owl "hoots"
  5. Coyote and fox observations (calling up for observation)
  6. Raccoon hunts (observation of night hunts)
  7. Stream and pond events
  8. Canoe trips
  9. Geology and mining trips and rock hunting
  10. Autumn colors
  11. Beaver ponds and their ecology
  12. Archaeological dig site
  13. Soils analysis and description trips
  14. Predator-prey trips
  15. Spring "seeps"
  16. Wild turkey trips
  17. Research participation (volunteer work)
  18. Expeditions to Ancient Forests (see The Wilderness Group)
  19. Stream ecology
  20. Wildflower preserve on the tracts
  21. Regional tours; U.S. tours with the Rural System Tracts as terminal points
  22. Timber harvesting
  23. Avi - "bird golf" - a new national and international sport
  24. Deer observation - international trips to see every species of deer in the world (see The Deer Group and Grandeer)

Benefits from cooperative arrangements with hotels, motels and Dogwood Inns may be arranged.

Contacts have been made for wilderness tours in India and Nepal. The potentials are for daily, year-around use with at least modest profits to those in the region and affiliated with Rural System. There are significant Internet resources. Related correspondence (and problems) follow:


An email Date: Fri, 23 Apr 2004 From: Thani Illam

Dear Ms Geetanjali,

In response to a question: Can I really visit an "off the beaten track" village in India and still enjoy the creature comforts I am used to back home? See: off the beaten track ----http://www.cardamomhouse.com

Earlier, abstracted from a note, to suggest the dimensions for future work:

Dear Ms Geetanjali Dhar,

We are not into a Business of money making using our home. The rates mentioned are after consulting with some friends from abroad. Hope you must have also noted that the Tariff is negotiable for long-staying guests and those with a keen interest in Indology (India related subjects).

Please note that INR Rate for Indians is Rs 500 per head per day on AP (all food) basis. I am sure this would be among the most economical stay for Indian clientele. But, then the problem is - if they start demanding A/C rooms, Non-Veg food, permission for alcohol consumption during the stay, smoking inside the house etc - which are not allowed in our project, tell me how many would be interested ??

Please reply with your comments to the above, so that we shall make all the necessary changes required for the Indian segment.

Warm regards, Santhosh

..

to http://www.itnatureclub.com/What should I do to get our project - Thani Illam - listed in your site ?

The following are some more properties which I used to promote. You may visit them and list them in your site. (www.earthfoot.org is another nice site)

Kerala

See Hiliya Resort, with which conversations are ongoing.

Karnataka

Tamil Nadu

Thank you,Warm regards, Santhosh


See Mid Atlantic Events Magazine, 1080 N. Delaware Ave., Suite 700, Philadelphia, PA 19125-4330 - for events planners, committee work, the nature event, the tour

See Ecotraveler, 503-224-9080; Eagle Outdoor Publishing , PO Box 1341, 36 N. 1st St., Eagle Idaho 83616

It makes sense that tours and conferences related to "greening" the country and world should themselves be green. This can be improved, a score presented to participants, and the message demonstrated.

References

Mowforth, M. and Munt, I. Tourism & Sustainability: Development and New Tourism in The Third World (Second Edition). London and New York: Routledge, 2003, xii, 338 pp.

Scarpaci, J. L., Plazas & Barrios: Heritage Tourism and Globalization In The Latin American Centro Hstórico. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2005, xix, 267 pp.

Hall, C.M. and Page, S.J. 2006. The Geography of Tourism and Recreation: Environment, Place and Space (Third Edition). London: Routledge, 427 pp.

See Satpuda Initiative



Home
Rural System
Glossary
Robert H. Giles, Jr.
July 1, 2005